Nine people, including a well-known journalist and his family, were killed in Afghanistan during a shooting at a luxury hotel in Kabul — stoking fears of potential bloodshed across the country ahead of next month's presidential elections.
Four teenagers suspected to be Taliban members smuggled tiny pistols into Kabul's luxurious Serena hotel Thursday evening before opening fire on hotel staff and guests at a dinner celebration. (Via CBS)
The gunmen killed nine civilians, including four foreigners and two children, before being taken out during a shoot-out with Afghan security forces. Among the five Afghans killed were a French press agency journalist and his family. (Via CNN)
AFP released a statement shortly after the attack saying reporter Sardar Ahmad, his wife and two of their three children were killed in the attack. The family's third child, his youngest son, was badly wounded during the assault and is currently undergoing emergency treatment at a local hospital. (Via Channel News Asia, Al Jazeera)
A BBC correspondent says Ahmad's death comes as a "shock" to Afghanistan's journalism community, but that it does not appear he was targeted.
"A very well-known figure indeed in the journalistic community ... Such an irony that there he was with his family ... celebrating, and they just happened to be the people sitting closest to the door."
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack, fueling fears the group will use violence to keep Afghan voters away from the polls during the country's upcoming April election.
The Wall Street Journal explains: "Thursday night's attack ... which came a week after a Swedish journalist was gunned down in central Kabul, is certain to further reduce the international role in monitoring the ... election to pick President Hamid Karzai's successor."
While the Taliban don't have a foothold in the capital, they claim the looming election is illegitmate since the country is occupied by U.S. and NATO forces. If the election is deemed successful, it will mark the first democratic power transition in Afghanistan's history.